Prominent Miami litigator Jeremy Alters has merged his law firm with the New York class action firm Morelli Ratner to form a 20-attorney shop that focuses on mass torts, personal injury and gender-based pay discrimination.
Morelli Alters Ratner will operate offices in New York, Miami and Washington, D.C. Alters will manage the Miami office, Benedict Morelli will remain in New York and David Ratner will be in charge of the Washington operation, which is scheduled to open in January.
The firm intends to specialize in plaintiff class actions. It wants to carve out a specialty in cases against corporations for systematic pay discrimination by gender.
The merger was effective Nov. 21.
"I always said I wanted to have a large class action law firm," Alters said. "I'm excited to move into New York and Washington, D.C. That's the center of all the action."
Alters is fresh off a substantial payday from the $410 million overdraft fee settlement against Bank of America. He said he won't be actively involved in litigating similar claims against other banks in the multidistrict litigation before Senior U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King in Miami. But he will receive a cut of attorney fees in other settlements.
Morelli Ratner has secured millions of dollars in settlements with pharmaceutical companies that sold the drugs Vioxx, Chantix and Avandia. Morelli, who has been in practice for 35 years, won the largest sex discrimination case in the country last year, for $95 million in federal court for the Southern District of Illinois.
Alters said he got to know Morelli when they served on the board of governors of the American Association for Justice. They became friends and in June jointly filed the first two state and national class action lawsuits against a manufacturer of polyurethane foam insulation spray.
When Alters came under investigation by The Florida Bar last year for alleged trust account irregularities, Morelli attended his bar hearings in a show of support. The bar suspended Alters on an emergency basis last year, but the Florida Supreme Court reversed the suspension and reinstated Alters' law license in January. Alters blamed any discrepancies on another lawyer who was in charge while he was ill.
"He was there for us in the toughest times," Alters said of Morelli.